Sunday, December 30, 2012

BzzCampaign: Ristorante Pizza -> Spinaci & Speciale

I was invited to take part in the BzzAgent Ristorante Pizza campaign.  I was surprised this came back out as a campaign since I was invited to take part in a Ristorante campaign earlier in the year.  I knew going into I that I enjoyed Ristorante pizza so I was going to get two different pies.  I picked up one with pepperoni  (Speciale) because that’s what my boyfriend eats and the other with spinach (Spinaci) because that’s just yummy on a pizza.

Ristorante pizza is advertised at being the #1 pizza in Italy.  The pizza itself is quite good.  It’s thin-crust pizza with a fair amount of cheese and toppings to evenly distribute over the whole pizza.  Sometimes when you get frozen pizzas there’s sparse ingredients over the top (like 5 pepperoni on the whole thing).  I do like the Ristorante brand because the pizza is not only thin crust (as I mentioned) but it’s very flavorful plus it cooks up in 11 minutes.

According to the Dr. Oetker website the Pizza Spinaci, is “a unique pizza layered with sun-ripened tomatoes, savoury leaf spinach, cheese and mozzarella, perfected by a hearty garlic sauce.  Being a garlic lover, you can definitely taste the hint of garlic in there – it’s not overpowering, but it plays off in the background.  It’s also slightly creamy in taste – this is probably one of my favorite frozen pizzas. I love it and I typically keep one in the freezer for myself.

Whereas for the Pizza Speciale, according to the Dr. Oetker website: “This unique thin crust pizza with Pepperoni and Cooked Ham make this pizza a culinary feast.  Edam, Mozzarella and spicy herbs add to the full flavor of this wonderful pizza.”  Granted, this is the only pizza sold by the brand that has pepperoni on it but it’s very flavorful.  The sauce is seasoned just right, the pepperoni has the right amount of spice and the ham gives it a new flavor.  Totally delicious!

I realize these pizzas may not be sold at all retail locations – but I happen to find these at a few of my local grocery stores.  They typically retail for $2.99 but you can sometimes get them for $2.50 or less if you have a coupon.  Some stores (like a pricier grocery store in my area) sells these for $4.99 each.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dinner: Chicken Ranch Tacos

I made Chicken Ranch Tacos for dinner on Friday.  I had wanted to make these for a couple months now because I saw it on Laaloosh (a Weight Watchers recipe blog)– had purchased the taco and ranch seasoning but just never got around to it.  I preplanned some of my meals for the week and decided I was going to make this since I was home on Friday.  I had my boyfriend clean the chicken for me (I have this thing about raw chicken – I can’t handle touching it (outside of just moving I from a container to a pan) or cleaning it.  So I took the trimmed and rinsed chicken and placed it in the bottom of my crock pot, then topped it with a packet of taco seasoning mix, a packet of ranch dressing mix, a tablespoon of minced garlic and 2 cups of chicken broth.  I looked into the crockpot and decided it needed a little more taco seasoning so I sprinkled some of my McCormick Taco seasoning on top of it.  I then turned the crock pot onto high and walked away for 6-hours.  When I returned I took the chicken out of the pot, shredded it and returned it back to the pot, stirring to get the juice mixture over all the meat.

The original recipe calls for 12 ounces of chicken – I used 2 pounds, added in the garlic and extra taco seasoning.

I served this with shredded lettuce and diced tomato, with a tiny bit of medium taco sauce.  My boyfriend’s tacos are on regular taco shells and I enjoyed mine on wheat flax tortilla.  I enjoyed it so much it was my lunch on Saturday and ended up being my lunch today as well.  It’s a really unique and different way to have a taco!

I had 4 ounces of shredded meat which I calculated to be 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cravebox: Coffee Lovers (Limited Edition)

As some of you are aware, I am a member of Cravebox – which is a subscription service that provides food based and beauty/health related items to their members.  It’s geared towards being a monthly subscription – but boxes do not come monthly.  Lately, they’ve been gearing more towards limited edition special boxes for members to request to be included in the drawing for the particular boxes that are available.  I received an e-mail about a Coffee Lovers box and I immediately added myself into the drawing since I am a complete coffee fanatic.

I received my box on Friday, opened it and I have to say … I’m a little bummed.  The box, in my opinion, could have been a whole lot more spectacular, especially for the $12 paid for the box.  I will use the products I received and I am happy I got sugar-free syrup since I have a French vanilla in the cabinet that I’m using up.  The coffee is also a repeat of the Cooking Light box I received last month as well as the syrup (except this one is in a new flavor).  I feel as though when I need coffee I’m a deal seeker by heart and I’d get me some coffee for $12 – not just a bag, cookies and a syrup LOL.  So, yeah, not 100% thrilled this time around – sadly.  End tirade.

Here’s what I received in my box:
-          Tully’s French Roast Coffee
-          Torani Sugar Free French Vanilla syrup
-          Barbara’s Bakery High-Fiber Cranberry Medley
-          Biscotti Brothers Almond Biscotti
-          Biscotti Brothers Cranberry Blueberry Almond and Oats Granotti

Have you ever heard of Cravebox?

Images are mine do not take or use. Thank you.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Triple Berry Crumble

I made a triple berry crumble for Thanksgiving to bring as a dessert to my boyfriend’s aunt’s house for his side of the families Thanksgiving celebration.  Secretly, this was a Weight Watchers recipe – but I’ve made it once before last summer or the summer before and I knew it was really yummy.  The only thing I switched up in this recipe was that I used a frozen triple berry mix (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries) instead of two different fresh berries (blueberries and raspberries).  I also made 1 ½ times the recipe so I could spread it a little further incase it was a hit on the dessert table.

Here’s the recipe that I used (brought back down to a single recipe, not 1 1/2):

4 cups triple mixed frozen berries
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unpacked light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and mix together.  Remove 3 tablespoons of the mixture.

Place berries in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the set aside 3 tablespoons of flour/sugar mixture.  Gently toss the berries to coat.

Add the melted butter into the flour/sugar mixture and stir continuously until combined.  It’ll look a little lumpy, but the more you stir, the wetter the mixture gets.  It’ll look like a very loose, raw cookie dough.

Place the berries in the bottom of a baking dish (you can spray with Pam if you wish) then crumble the topping onto the berries.

Bake in a 350 degree oven – yields 8 servings.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Homemade Beef Stew w/ Jamaican Dumplings

This is my first-ever homemade beef stew.  Growing up I used to watch my mother make beef stew so I had a general gist of what to do – so I went to the grocery store, picked up my veggies, my beef and I got a jar of beef stock (it’s like a really thick jelly consistency of flavored stock that you add to water).  I’d been craving beef stew because the weather had changed and all I wanted was something warm and something to make the kitchen smell “homey.”

One thing I will say is I like my stews thick.  I’m not really a soup person so stews are right up my alley.  I know everyone varies with thickness but thankfully my boyfriend also likes a moderately thick stew so I didn’t have to make this on the watery side.  This cooked for a fair while on the stove (a little over 3 hours) so it’s definitely not one of those meals you can just throw together in a flash – but undoubtedly it was delicious!

I used 2 tablespoons of olive oil to brown my beef, and then added 2 pounds of lean stew beef and let it brown up stirring it around in the pot.  I then added in my minced garlic.  When it was almost completely browned I threw in my large diced onion.  When done, I added in water (just eyeballing since I was making a big pot).  I added in my beef starter stock – covered and let simmer for an hour and a half.  After that I uncovered the pot, added in 2 pounds of chopped potatoes and a large bag of baby carrots.  While that came back up to simmer I made my Jamaican dumplings (flour, salt and water where you knead it into a harder rough – then rolled the pieces out in the bowl and then added them into the stew.  I covered it and let it cook for another near hour.

Ten minutes before serving I added in 1/3 cup cornstarch (mixed with cold water) and stirred it to have it thicken up to a delicious and perfect consistency.

Overall TWO thumbs up!  This was SO good!  What’s funny is my boyfriend didn’t know I was going to add Jamaican dumplings to the dish so when he was served his bowl and he spotted the dumplings he went “Awe, yeah!” HAHA.  We ate it for a few days, then frozen up the remainder into separate containers for quick dinners/lunches when we don’t have any idea as to what to eat.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie Dip

This is one of the desserts I made for Thanksgiving this year.  I love pumpkin pie, but pumpkin pie is bogged down with a lot of unnecessary sugars.  So to have something pumpkin and to not have to deal with the points (Weight Watchers) I decided to make something that was light and a dip rather than a pie that could turn into a trigger food.

I found this recipe on and thought it sounded so good. I had all the ingredients in my cabinet, except I did not have the fat free Greek yogurt so I picked that up on my trip to the store and off and running I went.

I will say I would serve this with graham cracker squares or cinnamon squares.  I know apples is a healthy way but the sweetness of the apple makes the dip almost ungodly sweet.  You are putting brown sugar in the dip so it increases the sweetness in it anyway – but the apple slices, in my opinion, put it over the top.  Perhaps if you do want apples I would suggest something tart, like a Granny Smith.  Nonetheless it was a pretty yummy dip.

If you want to try this recipe for yourself, you can find it here:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cooking Light (Limited Edition) Cravebox

I currently am subscribed to the Cravebox program.  Cravebox is similar to a Birchbox subscription but in this box the boxes are geared more towards food (and food related items), a healthy living and some beauty.  This particular box is a special/limited edition box – centered around Cooking Light.  I signed up to be included in the box availability drawing and was selected.  The reason I signed up is because I’m a Weight Watchers member and am always looking for something new to test out in the kitchen.  I know in the past Cravebox has provided magazine subscriptions so part of me had a glimmer of hope that that would be the case this time around.  The box arrived and I will say the one item I was most excited about was the Torani syrup.  I’m a huge coffee lover and I purchase my Sugar Free Torani syrups on Amazon.

Here’s what I received in my box:

-          Perfect Pinch Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning by McCormick (x2)
-          Nectresse 100% natural, no calorie sweetened by Splenda
-          Tully’s French Roast Coffee
-          Fruit Crisps by Dole – flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Peach and Apple Pear
-          Salted Caramel sugar free syrup by Torani
-          Coupons, recipe cards, magnet, etc.

I’ve tried the McCormick seasoning in a dish I was cooking and it’s a good flavored stand-up McCormick seasoning.  The peach fruit crisp is mediocre and the salted caramel syrup is ah-ma-zing!  I’ll be trying out the coffee this week at some point and most likely the Nectresse sugar packages as well.

So there you have it, my Cooking Light Cravebox!

Breakfast: Egg-“Hash” Muffins & Ham Steak

I’ve been getting bored with breakfasts as of late and have been finding I’ve been gravitating towards the same things.  Typically some sort of deli meat on toasted light wheat bread.  Of course I switch it up, but at the end of the day, it’s still deli meat and that can be really boring.  One thing about me is I am and probably always will be a complete carbaholic.  I LOVE anything that’s a carb – bread, potatoes, rice, etc.  If it’s starchy, I love it.  I had wanted hash browns and since I’m not a terribly huge fan of eggs I decided to try morphing the two together.  I looked up a few ideas online and found an egg white version but since I don’t like egg whites, I decided to just go with my own idea and chug along.  I originally was going to chop up my ham steak and drop it into the muffin tins, but when I got to that step there just wasn’t enough room in the tins.  That would work if I used giant muffin tins.

The only ingredients I used were 1 cup Simply Potato shredded potatoes (this is for 2 servings – ½ cup a serving – 3 tarts per serving), 1 cup egg beaters (1/2 cup per serving),  minced garlic, black pepper, sea salt, garlic powder and Mrs. Dash Spicy seasoning.

I mixed the minced garlic (use as much/little as you like – I love garlic so I put a fair amount) with the shredded potato, add in sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder to your liking and mix until blended.

Split the mixture up into the 6 greased (with Pam) muffin tins.  In the same bowl the potatoes were in add in 1 cup of egg beaters, black pepper, sea salt and the spicy Mrs. Dash seasoning.  Blend and pour the mixture evenly over the 6 cups of potatoes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for roughly 20 minutes (until eggs are cooked through).

I ate with 3 ounces Carando breakfast ham steak and I topped my eggs with sriracha (LOVE that stuff!).  They were really yummy – the potatoes mixed with the eggs and made a fabulous flavor.

On my last trip to the grocery store they didn’t have the shredded potatoes, so I bought the diced with onion – which would be 2/3 cup of diced potato in place of the ½ cup per serving.

3 muffins comes out to be 3 PointsPlus Values (2 for the potatoes, 1 for the eggs).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dinner: Homemade Meatballs & Sauce on fettuccine

I ended up making a large family-style dinner a couple weeks ago.  I had originally planned to make this meal on Sunday - but my brother, sister-in-law, niece & nephew came down on Saturday so I decided to make this then.  I’ve made sauce a number of times in the past but never made my own meatballs.  I’ve always helped my mother make her meatballs when I was younger so I had a general idea of what I needed.  Because I’m a Weight Watchers member I measured my ingredients out and converted them into PointsPlus Values so I’d know how many points my dinner would be.  Overall – I’d say the meatballs came out quite well.  Next time I’d add a little more garlic and a hair more parsley.  How about my sauce? Perfect!

Here’s my recipe:

Serves 10. 6 Points Plus per serving. 3 Meatballs & roughly 1/2 cup sauce per serving.

1 ¼ pound lean (93%) ground beef
1 ¼ pound lean ground pork
½ cup wheat Italian breadcrumbs
2 large eggs (beaten)
3/4 cup reduced-fat parmesan cheese (1/2 cup into the meatballs, the other half goes in the sauce)
Small handful fresh Parsley
~4 tablespoons minced garlic (2 tablespoons in sauce, the other half in the meatballs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup skim milk
3 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes (with garlic) - Drained
Large onion (cut in half)
Dried Italian seasoning
Black pepper
Sea Salt
Crushed red pepper flakes
Garlic powder


Mix the ground beef, pork, eggs, parsley, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, milk together in a bowl.  Season with some black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning (I added extra even though the breadcrumbs were already seasoned). Season appropriately to obtain the smell you’d want.

Form 30 balls, rolling the meat mixture in your hands until perfectly round. Place onto a non-stick baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Cooking time may vary based on your oven.  Make sure to shake the pan halfway through to turn the meatballs.

In a large sauce pan, add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat through.  Add garlic and halved onion.  Let the flavors marinate then add in cans of crushed tomatoes, can of diced tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and season with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes.  Let simmer.

When meatballs are done cooking – add to the sauce. Cover and let simmer for 1-2 hours on medium-low.

A serving of 3-meatballs with sauce was 6 PointsPlus values.  I ate this with 1 cup of whole grain fettuccine making it an 11 PointsPlus dinner.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin "Flan"

A number of weeks back I was really wanting something sweet – flan particularly.  I love authentic Spanish flan.  It’s soft, creamy, sweet and just downright delicious.  One of my close friends mom is from the Dominical Republic and she gave me her recipe a number of years ago and I have made it a handful of times and it’s seriously a party in your mouth BUT it’s not a party on your waistline (tons of sugar and fat).  I was browsing the Weight Watchers website one day and found this pumpkin flan recipe and put it into my favorites to try later.  I had all the ingredients in the house, except for the orange juice, so I picked up a small single serving container at Target and quickly made this later on in the weekend.

The original recipe showed the flans in individual ramicans but since I don’t have any I decided to make it in a large pan and cut it up into the 8 servings.  I will say though – this isn’t a flan consistency, it’s more of a pumpkin pie filling consistency.  It’s good BUT it would be SO much better with a little crushed graham cracker crumbs over the top with a dollop of cool whip.  That’s the one thing I didn’t have so it tasted kind of plain – but served cold with whip cream it’s good – with graham cracker crumbs it would be even better.

By the way – the one thing I switched in the recipe was instead of using individual seasonings (which I should have done) I used pumpkin pie spice instead.

If you’re interested in trying this out for yourself here’s the recipe:

½ cup brown sugar (unpacked)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
16 ounce canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie)
1 cup fat free evaporated milk
¼ cup unsweetened orange juice (I used the 50 Cal Tropicana)
¾ cup fat free egg substitute (egg beaters)

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, cayenne and salt in a bowl.  Whisk in the pumpkin, evaporated milk, orange juice and egg substitute.  Once mixed divide into 8 custard cups OR as I did pour into a glass baking pan.

Place the container (either cups or baking pan) into a roasting pan and pour boiling water around – about an inch deep.

Bake in a pre-heated oven set at 350* for about 45 minutes – the flan should be firm around the edges and just slightly puffy.  When done cooking remove your cups or pan from the water (careful – this is pretty dangerous) and let it cool completely before putting into the fridge.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Healthy Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Who knew having chocolate covered strawberries for breakfast would not only be healthy BUT delicious at the same time?  I certainly wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but I'm glad I tried it because it was delicious!

I started off by putting a teaspoon of baking cocoa powder in a sandwich baggie.  I added in a sprinkle of cinnamon and 1/2 a packet of Equal.  I mixed it together - then washed my strawberries, dried them just a tad, then cut them into pieces and added those pieces into my sandwich baggie with the cocoa mixture.

I sealed the bag shut and shook it up -- the powdered ingredients easily covering the strawberries.  I then dropped them into a bowl and ate as a side to my breakfast (ham sandwich on wheat).  The strawberries were delicious!  The cocoa turned a little wet so it wasn't dry and ready to choke me at any minute.  Some of the strawberries as they sat in the bowl got very chocolatey.  Sinfully delicious!

This was 0 Points Plus Values since the teaspoon of cocoa powder was 0 pts -- and strawberries are free under the plan.

Monday, October 22, 2012

BzzCampaign: Green Mountain Coffee – Fair Trade

I was invited to take part in a new BzzAgent BzzCampaign – this one centered around Green Mountain Coffee and Fair Trade.  The moment I saw the invite flash onto my phone (I have my e-mail synced to my smartphone) I went onto the website and officially opted into it.  I admit I was pretty excited to be part of this campaign because I am a HUGE coffee lover.  Coffee and caffeine run through my veins all day, every day, so needless to say I was looking forward to receiving my campaign introduction.  I received it the other day, took my photos of it, and went straight ahead to testing it out the next morning.

Fair Trade has started to get a big buzz as of late (and not just in this campaign) especially considering October is Fair Trade Month.  It’s being suggested coffee consumers purchase from Fair Trade suppliers because that ensures you can enjoy your own coffee, while also making sure to take care of the farmer who cultivated those beans you’re drinking.  By doing this Fair Trade ensures farmers get a fair price for their beans (meaning coffee manufactures aren’t nickel and diming the farmers), by doing this farmers working conditions can improve, there’s assistance in protecting the environment, while it also aids in supporting the community aiding in creating new schools, roads, drinking water, etc.  Green Mountain is largely known for promoting this and pushing for it.

There have been two musicians - Grace Potterand Michael Franti who have taken part of the Fair Trade act and traveled over to Colombia and Sumatra to visit the farming communities and get a better understanding of how Fair Trade significantly impacts not only the farmers of coffee beans, but the world and the individual farms communities.  The Green Mountain facebook page details the two performers trip, journey and the impact Fair Trade has on farming.  Make sure you check out Green Mountains facebook page to see Grace Potter and Michael Franti Fair Trade source trip which also includes a live stream of their concert:  One other thing you can get over at the Green Mountain facebook page is coupons off Green Mountain Coffee k-cups and bagged coffee.

In my campaign box, I received a stack of $1 off manufacturer coupons, a BzzGuide which details Fair Trade centering around coffee and 3 boxes of K-Cups. The K-Cup boxes house 4 K-Cups in each box and the 3 boxes have the same four flavors in it.  The four flavors provided were: Sumatran Reserve (Extra Bold), Colombian Fair Trade Select, Wild Mountain Blueberry, and Vermont Country Blend.

In closing, I can say drink responsibly

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hillshire Farms - Garlic & Herb Grilled Chicken Breast

I never knew Hillshire Farms sold prepackaged chicken breast until I spotted these while on at Target run.  I've been checking out Targets refrigerated food section because I've been finding Target stocks the yogurt and the BBQ chicken I like - where if I want those items I have to travel further up to Walmart to get them.  Anyway!  I purchased these prepackaged, precooked garlic & herb flavored chicken breast and I have to say they are REALLY good!  I wasn't sure if they would be good because I'm a chicken snob, especially when it comes to premade chicken because it can sometimes taste artificial, fatty, or like rubber.  These don't taste like any of those things.  The chicken is actually moist, flavorful and quite good.  The calorie count is low - I want to say it was between 90-120 (I finished them & threw the box out).  Each box contains 2 prepackaged chicken breast, that you heat in the microwave for 60 seconds in it's little warming pouch.  Quite good!  If you're in the mood for a quick meal that you can incorporate into a salad or into a sandwich - I suggest you try these out!  The greatest part - they're only 2 points plus values each!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yoplait Light Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

Fall is upon us, which means pumpkin everything!  One thing Yoplait came up with was this Pumpkin Pie flavored yogurt.  For those who are on Weight Watchers (as I am) this light yogurt is only 2 points plus values.  I LOVE anything pumpkin, so I immediately threw these in my cart when I spotted them at Target.  The 4-pack was $2 as they were on sale 3 for $6 last week.

The yogurt flavoring is on point, it taste just like a pumpkin pie ALTHOUGH the consistency of the yogurt really threw me off.  It's watery in consistency as Yoplait yogurts tend to be so that kind of made me think the yogurt was strange.  The flavoring is there but it would have been SO much better if it were slightly thicker since anything pumpkin (in my opinion) should be thicker.  I did decide to use one of these in a smoothie and I found I like how that turned out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dinner: Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

 A few weeks back I had been looking for something new to throw into the eating schedule.  I had found this amazing website through one of the Weight Watchers girls I follow on Instagram.  Her photo looked amazing and I wanted to make them for dinner.  So I ended up picking up all the goodies needed to make this and when I told my boyfriend our menu I had mentioned the fact a dish was vegetarian.  That was my first problem (LOL) my boyfriend is not a fan of vegetarian dishes.  He literally looked at me like I had just kicked a puppy.  So I said “uh, do you want me to add hamburger or turkey to the recipe?” and he said “Yes…” so into the freezer I went and I pulled out a pack of lean hamburger and let it defrost.  I basically followed the entire recipe (see recipe here: except I added meat into it and I mixed all my ingredients in a bowl and then filled the peppers.  Since my boyfriend does not like cheese I ended up putting cheese on half of the peppers and no cheese on the remaining.  I will say it’s a completely different twist and unlike anything I have ever had.  I did enjoy it and I ate it for lunch and dinner a few times.  I did enjoy them and will be making them again at some point in the future.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BzzReview: Unreal Candy Bar


Being a BzzAgent I received a coupon for a free Unreal candy bar, but I decided to get a few of them to share with my boyfriend and to try out.  I picked up the following bars: Unreal 77 - Reese Peanut Butter cup dupe, a Unreal 8 Snickers dupe and an Unreal 5 Milky Ways dupe and Unreal 41 a M&M’s dupe.

Unreal candy bars are supposed to be a “healthier” alternative to sweets by eliminating some of the processed ingredients that typically go into candy bars. For instance there’s less sugar, there’s no corn syrup in the candy, no partially hydrogenated oil, no artificial ingredients, no GMOs, no preservatives and it has a low glycemic index.

I will say out of the four I (and my boyfriend) tried we both agreed the Unreal 77 (peanut butter cup) was the grossest.  It just was weird and had a funky aftertaste.  Maybe it’s the fact that Reese Cups are one of my all time favorite chocolates, but this just wasn’t comparable.  I realize it’s not made to be an exact “duplicate” but it was just … not yummy.  I wouldn’t buy this again, heck, I wouldn’t even pick it up for free if I had to again because I just plain did not like it.

The Unreal 5 was hands down my favorite.  It was nice and mildly sweet and I liked that the caramel wasn’t sickeningly sweet as most caramels in chocolates tend to be.  It had a nice flavor, it was smooth all around and just a yummy candy bar.  This was definitely my favorite out of the batch.

The Unreal 8 was my boyfriend’s favorite.  I found it was alright, but it wasn’t as good as a Snickers (at least in my opinion).  My boyfriend thought it was a nice, healthier alternative.  It was nothing spectacular to shake a stick at, but it wasn’t horrendous either.  I just wasn’t a huge fan but my boyfriend enjoyed it, more-so than the Unreal 5.

Now the Unreal 41 (think M&Ms) was the most surprising.  The color is very bland but that’s because there’s no artificial colorings in it.  But I felt these tasted like Cadbury eggs (you know the ones with the crunchy shell).  They had more “meat” to them in comparison to say an M&M but I think I like these more than M&M’s.  They were just yummy and I liked how they reminded me of Cadbury (one of my favorite chocolate companies!)

Disclaimer: I received a free coupon from BzzAgent to test out the new Unreal candy bars which market was “unjunking the junk”.  I purchased one bar for free, used a buy 1 get 1 coupon to buy the other two and while at CVS was given a coupon (from CVS) for a free Unreal candy bar – so I ended up with four to try out.  Please do note that even though I received these items for free, it in no way alters my opinion of the product as my opinions are nothing but my own.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oven “Fried” Mushrooms

I found this recipe on (see here: and decided to make them as a side dish to the hamburgers we were having for dinner.  Now my boyfriend doesn’t eat mushrooms so I made enough for two servings and I ate half a serving at dinner and the remaining serving as little snacks with my lunch/dinner the remaining 2 days.  I enjoy fried mushrooms (particularly with a side of marinara sauce) so I figured I’d give these a shot and I was surprised as how good they tasted!  The parmesan and garlic really help boost up the flavor category and it gives them a nice crunch, while the mushrooms get softer in texture (as it would if it were fried).   I did follow the recipe exactly as described so I can’t offer any tips on how to alter, but I will say if I were to make them again I’d be following the same directions.

Do you like fried mushrooms?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

ActiveLink – WW’s version of the FitBit!

I purchased myself an ActiveLink at my Weight Watchers meeting this past week.  I’ve been wanting one for weeks but I was in an excuse mode where I wasn’t going to the gym and I’ve since screwed my head back on straight, so I picked one up for myself.  Before I go into explaining what this is, it’s Weight Watchers version (that they teamed up with Phillips to create) of the Fitbit.  The device measures all movement and aids in helping the user to push themselves to get a certain level of activity per day, while also helps push the user to reach higher activity goals over time.

According to Weight Watchers:  ActiveLink is an integrated activity experience consisting of a monitor, a personalized website, and tips and motivation brought to you by the experts at Weight Watchers and Philips. You wear the small ActiveLink monitor in your pocket or clipped to your clothes, and it tracks all of your activity throughout the day, Whether you’re walking the dog or working out at the gym, ActiveLink will let you know how many activity PointsPlus values you’re earning. The personalized site creates an activity goal for you, and provides information and motivation to help you achieve your goal over a 12-week period. And when you reach one goal, it will help you set, and reach, another.

Right now I am in an 8-day assessment phase where I wear my monitor all day and it measures a baseline of activity.  This baseline will be used to assess as to if my activity is lower and/or higher than what it was during that assessment phase.  Unfortunately during that assessment phase you’re not able to see the cool graphs that come with the ActiveLink but after the assessment is over I’ll be able to see my movement on my screen.  It’s super easy to use, you just plug the link into the USB portion of the computer and it charges and reads all your information.

I work with a few people who have an ActiveLink and they’ve enjoyed it thus far.  I’m hoping this will be the little push I need to help me continue to be honest and will help push me into continuing maintaining my healthy lifestyle – workouts included!

I paid $39.95 for the device itself and it’s a $5/monthly charge for the service.

Weight Watchers Salted Caramel Smoothie

I picked up a box of Salted Caramel smoothie mix at my Weight Watchers meeting at the end of last week.  I had seen this on the table as being one of the new products Weight Watchers came out with.  By the way if you’re interested in this product it’s sold exclusively at Weight Watchers locations not grocery stores.  The smoothie mix itself can be mixed with 1 cup of water or 1 cup of milk.  I have made a few smoothies with this mix using water, then tossing it in a blender with some ice and a banana.  The smoothie mix is quite tasty – it tastes similar to a drink you’d get at say, Starbucks.  I particularly really like this one because it’s filling, tasty and has a nice, smooth caramel taste.  I’m sure with milk it would be even more filling – but for right now I’m content mixing it with water.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Let me take a moment to introduce myself ...

I decided to make this blog because this is something that’s very near and dear to my heart. I enjoy blogging about health & beauty, but I’m VERY passionate about my path to a healthy lifestyle.  My name is Shannon, I’m a 27 year old young woman from New England who has struggled with her weight since as far back as I can remember.  Taking control of my own destiny I decided that I NEEDED to get healthy for myself.  My mind was in the game and my decision was made and I went full force towards that goal, no looking back.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself.  As I’ve become more comfortable (public speaking isn’t nearly as daunting as it used to be – but I still do get a little shy), I find I enjoy helping those around me work towards finding their courage and obtaining their goal.  I’m very open to speaking with anyone about their weight loss or how to help switch things up in their journeys.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

the master bagel breakfast sandwich

Isn't it a beaut? It was delicious as well. My boyfriend bought a bag of bagels at the market and I'd been wanting one. I used to have this immense love for bagels but since they're so carby they always send me down the wrong path -- which generally is hand in hand with a carb overloaded day. I had my meals for the day but was still hungry. To curb my hunger, protein always does it for me. I looked over at my boyfriend and asked if I made a breakfast sandwich on a bagel, would he eat half with me? He said yes (bless him - then again my mere mentioning it made his eyes widen).

I learned a trick from my local mom & pop coffee shop. They make breakfast sandwiches (and I say hands down the best 'fast food' variety) because they use all fresh ingredients. Real eggs, cheese and frozen sausage or pre-cooked REAL bacon (not that microwavable crap). I do the same thing at home now and it makes making breakfast a breeze, especially when I don't feel like getting out pans, etc.

All you do is spray a microwave safe bowl (plastic or glass -- but be aware the glass is going to get very hot to the touch) with cooking spray (i.e. Pam). Crack your egg into it, whisk and add your salt and pepper. In the photo I used eggbeaters. You then drop a frozen sausage patty right into the center of the egg to let the egg form a cocoon of sorts around the meat. I used a plastic bowl that was the same size of the bagel, so as my eggbeaters started cooking (they're primarily colored eggwhites) they started poofing up which is why the egg looks completely massive. If you are using a regular egg and sausage you cook for a muinute, check and cook for another 30 seconds. With this, I have to cook it 2 minutes, check and cook another minute because the eggbeaters just take a little more. Typically I'd throw a slice of cheese on this BUT the BF doesn't like cheese so it was dismissed. But that's fine because this was fantastic and quite yummy!

If you follow Weight Watchers PointsPlus program this would run you 9 points+, but since I had half, it was 5 points+.

Do you make bagel sandwiches at home?

Friday, May 11, 2012


All published content is property of Shannon's Lifestyle.  I ask that you do not steal any of my published content and claim as your own.

My reviews of products are written by me, for the sole purpose of providing insight on new foods/products I stumble across.  I am in no way being paid for reviews. The opinions written in this blog are mine and mine only.

I am not endorsed by Weight Watchers.  I am a member who has been following the program for 4+ years and has found great success with it.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

To Work Out OR Not To Work Out – That is the Question!

Yes, I had a bit of a Hamlet moment and got all Shakespearean on you!
Now I have been actively working out for a number of years and I find that listening to my body is the best way to go. I am not a licensed personal trainer or nutritionist just a girl who likes to take care of herself by monitoring what she eats and getting a fair amount of activity in a week. Some people when they just begin a workout regiment don’t really know how to listen to their body and think that you HAVE to work out X-amount of days, regardless of how you feel. That’s now always the case. Whereas on the other side of the fence, we have the folks that make excuses, like the “I’m sick” when they’ve got a stuffy nose. A stuffy nose should not keep you from working out, although a fever should. Please take note it’s recommended that you speak to your doctor before you begin a work-out because due to some health issues doctors may recommend or suggest against certain work out regiments. Now how do you know if you should or should not work out? I’ll give you a few tips.

1) Did you push the limit yesterday?
If you worked out really hard and your body is sore and it hurts to move, bend, lift, etc. don’t go back to the gym, at least not today. See how you feel tomorrow and move forward but don’t make it a permanent stop in your workout regiment. If you’re adamant about getting some sort of activity in, go for a leisurely walk but don’t go crazy at the gym until the pain has subsided.

I have gone REALLY hard at the gym and it hurt to just walk. The thought of getting up out of my chair and walking down the hall at work made me want to cry. Of course, in this instance, it was extreme and I was in no shape to go back to the gym. Due to my pain I wasn’t able to go back to the gym for 3 days, but after those 3 days I was good as new and back to the gym I went. But if you don’t listen to your body and work out even while in pain, you’re only doing more damage. You can significantly hurt yourself, which is not what you are aiming for – right?

While working out your body gives off a number of chemicals which can cause aches and pains. But also, when you work out your muscles can tear, stretch, etc., which may also be the leading cause to your pains. If you’re experiencing this pain it’s suggested you take some ibuprofen and even ice the area that’s bothersome. One of my doctors suggests that I take Tylenol and use Icy Hot on the soreness to help stray away from ibuprofen. The Icy Hot works on specific areas but if I’m just generally sore all over, I don’t want to take an Icy Hot bath. If your stomach can handle ibuprofen, it will help in reducing the aches. Another thing I do is eat a banana. Sounds strange, but sometimes the potassium helps me – but it may not help all.
2) Are you sick? You can work out, but it depends on your symptoms!
If you’ve got a runny nose or a sore throat you are perfectly okay to go to the gym (or if you are more comfortable when sick work out at home). Sure it may be gross walking on a treadmill with a slightly runny nose, but if you carry tissues with you and clean your work out environment before and after use, you will be fine. Believe it or not, working out with a minor cold can actually help you get better and fight the cold off. Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t go because you’re “sick” when a bit of activity will help you in the long run.
Now do you have a fever or significant chest congestion? If so, stay home until you are better. Working out with these symptoms will only make you sicker which is not what you want. So bite the bullet and enjoy your time to relax at home. When you’re back to 100% and these icky symptoms are gone, enjoy your workout!

3) Did you drink too much the night before?
Get some water in your system (2-3 glasses), take a headache reliever if need be and get your butt to the gym! No excuses, play like a champion! Believe it or not, exercise will help get rid of your hangover and it’ll also help make you feel better. The water and the pain reliever will also do its job in aiding to make you feel better. If that’s not enough of a reason for you to get to the gym, think of the calories you could burn off that you had swallowed back the night before. I find from talking to folks so many say “Oh I can’t work out, I drank, too much lactic acid.” Errr, no, you’re an excuse maker!

4) Do you have a pain around one of your joints?
I’ve experienced this and it tends to happen randomly. You’re working out, doing your normal routine when OUCH that hurts! It’s happened to my knee, my elbow and my shoulder. It’s generally triggered by an irritation around that joint. The best case scenario for this is to not do an exercise that affects that particular body part. For instance, if it’s your knee that hurts, you can do upper body but keep away from lower body exercises and cardio workouts. If it’s your elbow or shoulder, do lower body workouts and cardio that don’t make you use your arms. If the pain continues or becomes even more severe it’s best to go to the doctors and make sure you didn’t tear something.

So, as I say … no excuses, play like a champion! That is unless you have a legitimate reason to skip the gym – sickness, pain, etc. Otherwise, keep on that fitness regiment; you’ll be glad you did later!

Do you find yourself making excuses about going to the gym or do you suck it up and go with your eye on the prize?
Do you listen to your body and go along with what is going to work with you that day?

DIY: Pita Bread Pizzas!

Pizza – my all time favorite food! Yet sometimes, pizza doesn’t love those who eat it – but then again that all depends on what you are putting on it. If you’re loading it up with fatty toppings you’re going to push up the calorie content and the fat content. I do enjoy making my own homemade pizzas. Although one way to keep an eye on what you’re taking in and throwing a healthier spin on pizza is to make it on pita bread! You could even swap out the pita bread for Lavash or English muffins, but it’s all a personal preference. The great thing about making your own pita bread pizzas is you have full control as to what goes on it. Sauce, cheese, meats, vegetables, spices, etc. You can even experiment and make a number of these for when guests come over. I have done this in the past when my brother, sister-in-law and niece visit I whip up a few of these and they can go along way because they can get filling.

This time around I made a few different ones, some with toppings that repeated.

Pita pizza with pepperoni. My boyfriends pie. Just your classic take on a pepperoni pizza – sauce, cheese and turkey pepperoni. I then added a light sprinkle of Italian seasoning over the top before putting in the oven.

Pita pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and banana pepper rings. Pizza for our guest, made to their request. A twist on your classic pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and banana peppers thrown into the mix. As with the others, I added a light sprinkle of Italian seasoning over the top.

Pita pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach and banana pepper rings. My personal pizza. I love veggies, so I loaded up on this one adding mushrooms, broccoli, spinach and banana pepper rings. I also took 3 turkey pepperoni slices, tore them in half and sprinkled those over the pizza. Then I also added Italian seasoning over the top before baking off in the oven. I will say if I use mushrooms next time I make this, I will certainly be cooking the mushrooms beforehand; they were a little underdone to my liking. Also, I’ll mix the spinach with some minced garlic because it just tasted like bland blobs of green on the pie. Not bad, but the spinach was blah.

Have you ever made pita bread pizza?
Out of the three pizzas listed above, which would you like the best?

Images are mine do not take or use. Thank you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Weight Watchers - It DOES work!

Now (July [yellow shorts] & August [blue dress] 2012): 


                                                  November 2011:

I have struggled with my weight since I was a little girl. I was always the heaviest girl in my class. Sure, I was picked on, but it was something that made me stronger and made me not care what others had to say. Did it hurt at the time? Yeah it did, no one wants to be the odd man out. But if it weren’t for some of those struggles, I would not be the woman I am today. When I was 17 I joined Weight Watchers for the first time and lost around 50 pounds and ended up quitting because I was going with a family member and their schedule at this particular meeting didn’t meld any longer so we stopped. And I gained all my weight I loss back.

The middle of February 2010 I told myself that I had had enough and that I was going to do something about my weight. This was the first time in a VERY long time that I had the courage and the strength to do something to better myself. People around me had been telling me to lose weight, but if your state of mind is not into it, you are not going to do it. This time, I was ready and I was prepared. I found a Weight Watchers meeting which was in my city and I walked in on a Thursday night, shy and quiet and asked how I could sign up for Weight Watchers. I signed up and became a monthly member (which means the monthly fee is deducted from my credit card monthly and it allows me access to the Weight Watchers online E-Tools system).

I have been a withstanding member ever since. I look forward to my Thursday meetings and enjoy the comradely that comes from these sessions. I absolutely adore my leader (a leader is the individual who is a part of Weight Watchers, has lost all the weight they needed to be at goal – which is what your individual ideal healthy weight is and has maintained it), she’s incredibly helpful and she has helped me during some rough patches in my weight loss. The folks who are in my meeting are all friendly and we tend to talk before and after the meeting on Thursdays. We share recipes, tips, ideas, new products that are out in the market that are “point friendly”. It’s really a great bunch of folks and I cherish the relationships I have built with each of them.

Now I know I have been talking a lot about the program itself and I feel as though that’s very beneficial for anyone who’s new to the program, who doesn’t know about the program or just has incorrect knowledge passed on to them from others.

I just want to state this quickly, let me start this off by saying Weight Watchers is NOT Jenny Craig, it is not Nutri Systems, it is not the grape fruit diet, it is not the Subway diet, it is not the cookie diet, etc. What Weight Watchers IS is a lifestyle change for the better! With Weight Watchers you eat your own food – no we fellow Weight Watchers members are not tearing open a package of freeze dried “chili” and going to town (I mean, really?). Yes, Weight Watchers sells brand name foods in stores – but this is only as a helpful tool to members (or the general public) because there are times in your life where you’re on the fly and you need something to eat and you’re unsure. When this happens you can just snag a Weight Watcher meal and heat it up – the points are on it for you and it helps eliminate poor choices. We actually go out to restaurants, we can eat cupcakes/ice cream (and even together if the mood strikes), we can eat dips and chips, we can eat steak and cheese sandwiches, and we can eat pizza (among everything else there is food wise) – but the key is – we do so in moderation!

From the pictures, you can see I have lost a drastic amount of weight. From the last week in February 2010 to this date currently, I have lost 175+ pounds following the Weight Watchers program!

I still have a little ways to go before I am at my ideal goal weight, which would make me a Lifetime member! Incase you are unfamiliar, Lifetime members are members of Weight Watchers who have lost all the weight they need to and are considered to be at a healthy weight compared to their BMI. A bonus for Lifetime members is they do not have to pay a monthly/weekly fee, they will now have free access to Weight Watchers online system E-Tools, and they are able to go to as many meetings as they want (as they would also be able to do as a non-lifetime member). Lifetime members also weigh in once a month compared to the weekly that non-lifetimers weigh in.

Out of all the individuals who are at my meeting, I am the individual who has lost the most amount of weight. Many of the ladies and gentlemen I speak with tell me that I am their inspiration and that I inspire them to do better and to “get back on the wagon.” I never once thought I would inspire individuals to lose weight or to continue losing weight. But it’s a great feeling and I enjoy helping others with their journeys.
Incase you’re wondering, I lost the first roughly 80 pounds on my own by just eating healthy and watching what I was eating. This means weighing and measuring and tracking my food intake. After that I started to add in activity (zumba and general activities such as weight training and adding in the elliptical and treadmill into my routine). These days I hate the treadmill so I go to three zumba classes a week and find when I do that I’ve been losing roughly 2 pounds a week by eating healthy and exercising.

Once I hit my goal weight, I want to work for Weight Watchers as a receptionist and I hope to one day become a leader so I can continue to inspire individuals and share with them the wealth of knowledge I have learned during my journey.